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8 



Art News. 



roofs to assure their equilibrium, can be com- 
pared, perhaps, to the Eococo, the most insignifi- 
cant of all architectural styles. The general ap- 
pearance, as well as the single parts, to the 
smallest detail, is merely picturesque. 

And then their sculpture ! Where do we find 
an approach to the calm, stately perfection of 
Greek or even Egyptian art, except it were in the 
colossal statue of Buddha and the colossal carved 
figures of the Deva Kings 1 To me they are by 
no means as imposing as the giant statues of 
camels and mandarins on the avenue leading to 
the supulchre of Ming, near Peking. 

Zingaro, it is true, was a highly interesting 
combination of architect, carpenter and wood 
carver, and his world of carved flowers and birds 
stood unsurpassed. Also the hammered bronze 
works of Hiroshima I rank very high artistically, 
But after all, one marble slatue, like the captive 
of Michael Angelo, comes nearer to my heart. 

However, their most vital defect seems to me 
to be their lack of nature. 

True enough, only the Chinese can surpass them 
in painting the hair of a beast, the down of feath- 
ers, the veining of petals, the dust on a butterfly's 
wing more truthfully, but this marvelous realism 
in certain details can scarcely outweigh the gro- 
tesque confusion in more important parts. 

Also their coloring— of course I do not refer to 
the cheap stuff that is especially made for export, 
but to landscapists like Hiroshige — remains in 
the limits of decorative impressionism. A sea, 
painted apparently with onesweepof deep indigo, 
bound with violet mountains and dark green trees, 
and a red bridge in the foreground, can hardly be 
compared in regard to truthfulness and musical 
harmony to any creations of our American Try on 
for instance. 

Until 1700 Japanese art was perceptibly influ- 
enced by Chinese art, and Chinese art is the most 
conventional, dogmatic and unchangeable of all 
arts. They have been handicapped in the draw- 
ing of the human form and drapery, by a rigid 
observation of a canon as rigid and indisputable 
as that of the ancient Greeks. Even their ar- 
rangement of flowers, that to us seem done in 
such a free, bold manner, has its literature of 
regulations (understood by all learned people) 
and savants have laid down regular codes. Their 
men look like demons, their women like frights ; 
they have, indeed, never drawn a proper human 
face, and their drapery is always ludicrously in- 
correct to a pupil of nature. Th is seems the more 
astonishing to us as the Japanese men and women 
are by no means shy in appearing naked, which, 
after all, offers the best opportunity for studying 
the human form. It must be noted, however, that 
their religious belief regards the body as a vile 
carcass, of no worth whatever, destined to rot 
and waste away. 



This, in connection with a love for the gro- 
tesque displayed in their folklore and legends, in 
which demons, monsters and genii play such a 
prominent part, may explain much of their man- 
nerism in the eccentric drawing of drapery, or 
the features of the human figure. Like Henry 
Irving's mannerisms, these are full of intellectu- 
ality ; every stroke is full of poetic feeling. 

However, as soon as it is a question of decorative 
art, I give the palm to Japan. 

I gladly acknowledge that their porcelain ware 
is better than that of either Palissy, Dresden or 
Chelsea Their lacquer ware is as excellent, mir- 
ror-like and rainproof, as that of China. I ac- 
knowledge that Seimen has made vases and in- 
cense burners which no American would ever 
dream of. Yet I would not dare to compare Sei- 
men's turtles and Taoun's dragons to Cellini's 
works, unfit as they were for jewelry. 

What endless versatility and brilliancy of idea 
and execution do they not reveal in their sword 
guards, in their netsukes or in their wood carvings 
(their virtuosity they reveal in feats like that of 
carving a moonlit scene with realistic effect). 
Nevertheless I would not take it upon myself to 
call them superior to the Tanagra figures or the 
carvings of the Middle Ages, though I myself 
might prefer the work of my semi-countrymen. 



An exhibition deserving attention is at the 
Keppel Gallery, where the works of Piranesi, an 
architect and etcher, born in Venice in 1720, are 
shown . This artist spent his life in etching the 
famous buildings and ruins of Italy, especially 
those in and near Rome- 

Col. Henry T. Chapman's house, 340 Clinton 
Ave. , Brooklyn, is open every Sunday after 2 to 
all those who are lucky enough to belong to his 
intimate circle, although any art lover with 
proper introduction may enjoy a visit to that 
home of art. It is a veritable museum ; there are 
pictures wherever one looks, from the garret 
down to the cellar. I was principally attracted 
by Courbet's "Winter," which he painted when 
he was an exile in Switzerland, a marvelous 
Michel, a Lemardo di Vinci and a Rembrandt. 
After the tea the guests are usually regaled with 
music. Col. Chapman is chairman of the art com- 
mittee of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and 
Sciences which will open its new building in 
March with an exhibition of paintings (March 
loth to May 31st). One of Mr. Chapman's sons, 
Frederick A. Chapman, has opened "Art Rooms" 
at 301 Fifth Avenue. 

Me. Hofktnson Smith held forth once more at 
Aveiy's. This time Constantinople was on the 
tapis . There is a decided f ascination to me about 
Hopkinson Smith's water-colors; they are so non- 
chalant, tricky, transparent, and besides so au 
fait and coquettish, that nobody should wonder 
at the strange hold they have upon society. His 
colleagues denounce him by saying he is only a 
surface man. True, brilliancy and refinement, 
two leading characteristics of American painting, 
are merely surface qualities with him, but after 
all every man can only be himself, and surely we 
can expect no depth of Mr. Smith, who is so ver- 
satile and so clever in his versatility. I wish we 
had more Hopkinson Smiths; our pot-boilers and 
Christmas cards would profit by it— become more 
graceful.